Right now, in the face of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many of us face new restrictions, change (or abrupt ending) to work and learning, and increased anxiety about the physical, financial, and emotional health of our family, neighbors, and communities. Many of us are rightly wondering what we ought to do and how we ought to react.
One of the responses to the novel coronavirus has been a call for Christians around the world to join together in praying the words of the Lord’s Prayer. These simple, familiar words, give language to petition, lament, and steadfast hope in God’s promises in the midst of trial and in the face of a world where all has not yet been made right, where we long for Christ to come.
This familiar prayer of Jesus—words we sometimes say so frequently that we nearly forget the profundity of what we are saying—is the topic of The Lord’s Prayer: A Guide to Praying Our Father, the newest book from Lexham Press’ “Christian Essentials” series. In it, Wesley Hill, Ph.D., associate professor of biblical studies at Trinity School for Ministry, has given us a wonderful gift. This book is an accessible, wise, and deeply devotional meditation on the Lord’s Prayer. In it, Hill gathers voices from the church and insights from Scripture to “draw out the significance of Jesus’ words for Christian prayer today.” But Hill does not only offer profound theological insights in this short book, he also invites us to pray the Lord’s Prayer along with him. There is no doubt that this is a book not only about prayer but bathed in prayer.
As if he has anticipated the collective anxiety and restlessness of these weeks, Hill invites us into a posture of prayer that is modeled upon Jesus’ own posture. “Unclench your fists,” he writes, “Breathe deeply. Let your heart rate decrease. Know that you’re already bathed in the Father’s love, and ask simply for what you need, in the assurance that the One to whom you’re speaking is already cupping his ear in your direction.” In the chapters that follow, Hill walks through each petition, inviting us to discover the context and meaning of each of Jesus’ words. As Hill does the theological and exegetical work to unpack each petition, he shows that this prayer is not only spoken by Jesus, but is about Jesus. “Jesus embodies and enacts the prayer he taught his followers to pray.”
For the theologian and layperson alike, this book offers a treasure of wisdom and practical insights for praying the Lord’s Prayer. In this time of coronavirus—Hill’s book is a welcome invitation into the deep meaning and mystery of the Lord’s Prayer. Indeed, may God’s kingdom come. (Lexham Press)